Beginning as early as the first week in August and as late as after Labor Day, the first day of school is swiftly approaching. Going back to school can require quite a bit of prep work: ¬†New supplies, clothes or uniforms and shoes have to be purchased; haircuts happen, bedtimes adjusted, homework areas dug out from under the leftovers of summer – and those days leading up to the first day of school can drive you crazy. But have no fear, we are here to help you prep and plan for this year and beyond.
School supply lists
Every year, my children come home with “leftover” supplies from that school year. ¬†I dutifully go through them, saving what can be re-used for the next year. Then I get the supply list a couple of months later and see that I can use just a few of the items I saved. Armed with my list, the comparison shopping begins.
Online sales and specials vs in-store shopping: ¬†in my opinion, both have their pros and cons and are equally balanced. Online shopping means no crowds, but you may have to pay a shipping charge and wait for your items. If you are shopping early enough, shipping time won’t be as big a factor, but you may also miss out on sales and specials if you shop too early. Depending upon the loyalty program(s) you are enrolled in, it may be worth it to shop online and earn points/cash-back to use for holiday shopping. In-store shopping may get you a tax-free weekend in some states, however if you shop on base you don’t pay tax ever.
If you do plan to go in-store shopping, check the website to see if you can place your order online for pickup at the store (Target¬†offers free same day store pickup,¬†plus you can use¬†CartWheel and stack in-store and manufacturer coupons and use your REDcard for additional savings. ¬†Staples is offering a 110% Price Match Guarantee and their free Rewards Program can earn you coupons toward future purchases.) Obviously getting the supplies at the lowest cost possible is the priority, but if you can narrow down your top 3 “must haves” (ie: ¬†earn Rewards, no crowds, free shipping), the decision making process on where to go to shop gets a little bit easier.
New Clothes or Uniforms
Just last week, all the clothes in the closet fit your kids. If your kids are like mine, they have growth spurts overnight and you find yourself rushing out to find clothes that fit! I’ve started stock-piling 2-3 sizes larger than what my oldest is in and keeping all the clothes she grows out of for her sister. ¬†The amount of plastic tubs in my garage is abundant and¬†I always have something for them to wear. ¬†This isn’t feasible for everyone due to space or time or funds limitations, but if you can start now with just a couple of things and slowly add to it, you will quickly have a wardrobe for your kids built up and ready for any growth spurt.
Now, where do you find them? I am a great believer in the 3 R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. ¬†I buy online through resale sites¬†(like SargesList) and shop at the thrift store on base or at any store where my purchase¬†directly benefits our vets (AMVETS) or via yard sales on base (which we hope you find advertised on SargesList!). I am not only getting great deals, I am supporting those businesses and families that support military families and veterans around the world. And as I find I need to purge some items, I use SargesList to post my “online yard sale”. Not only do my local military families see what I have to offer by visiting SargesList directly, but civilians who may not realize they have access to SargesList will get to see my “store” when I post links to my listings on resale groups on social media sites. ¬†We have a tutorial about how to do that here: ¬†Share your SargesList Store
No matter what you are looking for there is a coupon code or printable available for it, a sale going on for it or somewhere that will price-match it. Online coupon code sites like RetailMeNot will quickly search for a coupon code for any online site and sometimes offer links to printables. Websites like Groupon, LivingSocial, AmazonLocal offer discounts to local businesses (buy it online, take in to the store to redeem), but be sure to carefully read the restrictions and limitations. Price matching is very popular these days so check online before you head out to your local store to see if there is a lower price available online. Even when it’s not local, ask for a price match. The worst you will hear is, “No, sorry we don’t price match”, but you may hear, “Yes, we price match” or “I can’t match that price, but I can give you xx% off our price.”. We would love to hear your Back-To-School shopping success stories! ¬†Share them with us HERE on our Facebook post.